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The amount of quality new releases is slowing dwindling in favor of generic Christmas albums and greatest hits packages, but nothing can be done about that. To pass some time, consider reading Adam Thomas’ interview with Ryan Parrish of Darkest Hour.

Here’s a list of major new releases for the week of November 30 , 2010. Please feel free to request reviews for any of the following albums from staff or contributors.

Eric Benet – Lost In Time (Reprise/Wea)
Black Eyed Peas – The Beginning (Interscope Records)
Buckethead – Left Hanging (TDRS Music)
Circa Survive – Appendage [EP] (Atlantic Records)
Fefe Dobson – Joy (Island)
Ron Isley – Mr I (Def Jam)
JR & PH7 – The Update (SoulSpazm Records)
King Cannibal – The Way of the Ninja (Ninja Tune)
Tim McGraw – Number One Hits (Curb Records)
Chrisette Michele – Let Freedom Reign (Def Jam)
Miguel – All I Want Is You (Jive)
Soman – Noistyle [Digital Only] (Infacted)
The Republic of Wolves – Varuna (Self Released)
Flo Rida – Only One Flo (Part 1) (Atlantic)
Seven Days – Into Forever (Phantom Domestic)
Simian Mobile Disco – Delicacies (+1 Records)
Slim Thug – Tha Thug Show (Entertainment One Music)
Soulja Boy – The DeAndre Way (Interscope Records)
Jazmine Sullivan – Love Me Back (J-Records)
Steve Wynn – Northern Aggression (Yep Roc Records)


Album Streams (please inform us of any broken links/removed streams):

The Republic of Wolves – Varuna

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The art district in downtown Pomona, CA, was an odd mishmash of people on November 27th. At the Glasshouse kids were packed outside to see Darkest Hour, Periphery, and Veil of Maya. A few buildings over at the Fox Theater the crowd was a little bit more extreme as they funneled into the rebuilt art-deco theater to see Dimmu Borgir and Enslaved. And smack dab in the middle of all of this, in a parking lot across the street from the Glasshouse, there was a small crafts fair and low-rider show set with their own band playing 70’s funk hits. This is what I had to make my way through on my way to Darkest Hour’s tour bus to interview their drummer Ryan Parrish. Among other things, we discussed Darkest Hour’s upcoming album The Human Romance, their 15th anniversary as a band, and what the future holds for the long running metal act.

Adam Thomas: With The Eternal Return you fulfilled your contract with Victory Records and now you’ve signed to E1 which used to be Koch…

Ryan Parrish: Yes.

AT: How does it feel to have a new home after spending almost a decade on the same label?

RP: Amazing. It’s an incredible change for us. We’ve been looking forward to the end of the Victory contract for a while so getting on a new label is the like best thing we could do. They’re really great to us.

AT: Has it opened up any new opportunities for…

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Kevin Barnes, eccentric frontman of indie pop outfit of Montreal (that’s a lowercase ‘o’ mind you!) did something yesterday that not many artists do, for several reasons: he responded to a critic. The main reason, though, is quite simple – you can’t look good. Following his discovery of the 6.7 semi-dismissal from Pitchfork, he took to his blog to give his own snarky, critical response to a snarky, critical review. You can read it here but if you don’t want to, here’s the crux of the issue: Kevin Barnes feels misunderstood. His calls for a “fair and balanced review” amongst the slew of insults and sarcasm did serve a purpose though: it brought an important question back into the spotlight. Just what does a review serve to do?

Let’s put it into a wider context for a moment: the press are a huge part of a musicians life. The influence of a website like Pitchfork alone is enough to rocket the career of an upcoming independent artist into the spotlight or have it crumbling away like a fistful of sand. The evidence is clear enough to see: bands like Vampire Weekend can credit a lot of their current level of success to the hype Pitchfork spun around them (this isn’t a jab at the bands ability, for the record) and Fleet Foxes went from folk minnows to a debut album that charted in seven countries in the space of a year, on the back of a no-holds-barred 9.0…

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Here’s a list of major new releases for the week of November 23 , 2010. Please feel free to request reviews for any of the following albums from staff or contributors.

Agalloch – Marrow of the Spirit (Profound Lore)
After the Burial – In Dreams (SUMERIAN RECORDS)
Akon – Akonic (Konvict Muzik/Universal Motown)
Alchemist+Oh No – Gangrene: Gutter Water (DECON INC)
Lloyd Banks – H.F.M.2 (Hunger For More 2) (G-Unit/EMI)
Big L – Return of the Devil’s Son (SMC Recordings)
Justin Bieber – My Worlds Acoustic (101 DISTRIBUTION)
The Chariot – Long Live (Good Fight Music)
Crematory – Black Pearls {EU} (Massacre Records)
Darkwater – Where Stories End (RED GENERAL CATALOG)
Doro – 25 Years In Rock {EU} (Nuclear Blast)
Kevin Eubanks – Zen Food (Mack Avenue)
Fat Music Vol. 7: Harder, Fatter + Louder! [Various Artists] (Fat Wreck Chords)
God Dethroned – Under the Sign of the Iron Cross (Metal Blade)
Gotthard – Heaven: Best of Ballads Part 2 {EU} (Indie Europe/Zoom)
Hardcore Superstar – Split Your Lip {EU} (Indie Europe/Zoom)
Impaled Nazarene – Road to the Octagon (Osmose Records)
Inspectah Deck – Manifesto Redux (Urban Icons Records)
Alan Jackson – 34 Number Ones (Sony Nashville)
Jay-Z – The Hits Collection Vol. 1 (Def Jam)
Jesus Culture – Come Away (Km: Kingsway Music)
Ke$ha – Cannibal [EP] (RCA)
Killing Joke – Absolute Dissent (Universal Int’l)
Killing the Dream – Lucky Me (Deathwish Inc)
Maestro Fresh-Wes – The Black Tie Affair (MFW Records)

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One of the blogosphere’s more interesting stories of late has been the rapid rise of Sonny Moore, better known now as Skrillex, in the electro scene. With only two EPs to his name on deadmau5’s label, Moore at one point had six songs near the top of the Beatport Top 100, a site that specializes in electronic releases and is an excellent barometer of artist success. This is a feat that has never happened before, and it’s even more fascinating when you learn that Moore, who was the former frontman for post-hardcore band From First To Last, only began DJing in the past couple of years. His debut EP came out in June, while Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites, featuring this rather filthy dubstep remix by everyone’s favorite Dutch drum ‘n bass trio Noisia, was just released last month. Who knew all that pent-up hardcore aggression would translate so well to electro?

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It might be a reflection of me, or my friends, rather than the world at large, but the passing of Henryk Gorecki marked the first time since Michael Jackson that I found out about a musician’s death through a text message rather than the news. To me, it seems like that speaks volumes about how deeply people care about his music, how unerringly it connects with its audience. And this is to say nothing of the way one of his most famous and most cherished friends and compatriots reacted. As CBC reported, “[Krzysztof] Penderecki insisted on seeing him [in hospital]. We tried to joke, make plans for the future. Penderecki promised he would direct his Beatus Vir for his 80th birthday.” That birthday, like Penderecki’s own 80th, would have been in 2013. Something as simple, poignant, and sweet as that says everything. His death, like his music, was deeply human.

That is one thing that’s refreshing, almost, about Gorecki’s death. The last time I wrote an obituary for this blog, I was writing about a man that died very young and very suddenly. This time, I’m writing about a 76 year old man who had been ill for some time. There is no big story here, no coals to rake over, no skeletons in the closet to pause on – there is just a tribute to be paid to a great artist, and nothing more. We arguably haven’t had that since Stockhausen died, and even he did his…

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I don’t know much of anything about Young Magic (I don’t even know, really, what that picture above is, except has something to do w/r/t the artist), except that his debut song, “You With Air,” is the exact kind of dark, soulful, lo-fi pop that I’ve been searching for relentlessly after Love Remains spiked this hunger, this crave, for such music into my brain. It’s a little more spirited than How to Dress Well, with less focus on ambiance, but the song’s stifling, throbbing synths and the confessional slur of the vocalist combine to give the same sort of nightly glow. Plus, it’s rather catchy, which is always a plus. More stuff to be moody to, basically.

You With Air 7″ comes out February 11, 2011, on Carpark Records.

Young Magic “You With Air” by carparkrecords

Patrick Wolf’s new album will be coming out within the next few months or so, and I am incredibly happy because I love him more than words can express.  ”Time Of My Life” is the first song released so far, and you can preorder the 7″ single here.  Side B is a cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Anthem.”

Between each of Sufjan Stevens’ 2010 releases, All Delighted People EP and The Age of Adz (pronounced odds), it was awfully hard to not be enthusiastic at the notion of seeing his act live.  In the past, Sufjan would have a near full orchestra for some shows and play a rather large-scale event, but no words or reviews could have properly prepared anyone for the show his entire ensemble put on last night at the Beacon Theatre in New York City, one of the most lavish and beautiful venues I have ever entered.  Previously, comparing other releases such as Illinois and Seven Swans, I cannot say that I would have been chomping at the bit to see either live, but the energy and mystique that surrounds The Age of Adz was enough to imagine how it would all translate live.  We all can sit and listen to any Sufjan Stevens record and not really get a clear picture as to how much or what kind of emotion was put into this record, but in person, watching the maestro perform his work, everything was revealed.

As the theater lights dimmed, a roar erupted as Sufjan Stevens took stage donned with a small set of white, feathered wings on his back.  Gently strumming his banjo to Seven Swans,” the entire theater was silent as all eyes and attention were squarely on Sufjan as no other band members were visible at this point.  The first break in “Seven Swans,” which was originally just…

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Here’s a list of major new releases for the week of November 16 , 2010. Please feel free to request reviews for any of the following albums from staff or contributors.

Bryan Adams – Bare Bones (Decca)
A Day To Remember – What Separates Me From You (Victory Records)
Bombay Bicycle Club – Flaws (Island)
Cassidy – Cash (Entertainment One Music)
Crushed Stars – Convalescing In Braille (Simulacra Records)
Curren$y – Pilot Talk 2 (Def Jam)
Lee DeWyze – Live It Up (RCA)
Jackie Evancho – O Holy Night [CD/DVD] (Columbia)
Glee: The Music, The Christmas Album [Soundtrack] (Columbia)
Josh Groban – Illuminations (143 Records)
Norah Jones – …Featuring Norah Jones [Collection of Collaborations] (Blue Note Records)
Kid Rock – Born Free (Atlantic)
Annie Lennox – A Christmas Cornucopia (Decca Records)
Loreena McKennitt – The Wind That Shakes The Barley (Verve)
Nelly – 5.0 (Universal Motown)
P!nk – Greatest Hits…So Far!!! (La Face)
Pink Martini – Joy To The World (Heinz Records)
The Pipettes – Earth vs. The Pipettes (FORTUNA POP)
Rascal Flatts – Nothing Like This (Big Machine Records)
John Regan – Sorry I’m Late (Culture VI)
Rihanna – Loud (Def Jam)
Showbread – Who Can Know It? (Come&Live!)
Bruce Springsteen – The Promise [Compilation of Unreleased Songs] (Columbia)
Stereolab – Not Music (Drag City)
Solefald – Norrøn Livskunst (Indie Recordings) – Trey Spencer
Suicidal Angels – Dead Again (NoiseArt Records)
Chris Tomlin – And If Our…

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(Photo: Romain Kedochim)

Time was, all the phrase “UK hip hop” brought to mind was the impossibly cool Slick Rick and the slightly less cool John Barnes. Ireland was in worse shape, almost apologetically claiming credit for New Yorkers House of Pain. Of course there were wonderful underground acts on both scenes, but they would always lack legitimacy in a genre still dominated by inner-city black Americans.

Times have changed immeasurably since: British rap acts have become a genuine force internationally, and being white and European is no longer the stumbling block it used to. Nevertheless, London-born, Wexford-raised Maverick Sabre had always struggled to define his own identity since leaving the city of his birth aged 4 to live in the land of his father, a nation where to be both Irish and English is often viewed as an oxymoron.

That struggle is one the 20-year-old teases out on his debut single, ‘Sometimes,’ and one of many fresh perspectives he offers to an already creatively thriving London scene. His style will most commonly be compared with Plan B’s – and indeed he’s already played support for his fellow Londoner – with acoustic guitar prominent in all his songs and reggae-tinged singing interspersed with his half-caste rapping voice.

Maverick Sabre – ‘Sometimes’:

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It’s a rare enough event, so we like to celebrate it, when Sputnik’s favourite Aussie pop whore Davey Boy’s tastes overlap with anybody else’s.

It’s even more unusual when two of those rare events collide, but as it happens Davey and I share more than just a name: we both have a keen appreciation of the full-on badassedness of P!nk and the slightly less full-on glamness of Idol pretty boy Adam Lambert.

Here’s the collision – Lambert’s 2010 hit ‘Whataya Want From Me’ was co-written by P!nk and recorded for her 2008 album Funhouse. It didn’t make the final cut, but Lambert gave it a key platform on his debut album For Your Entertainment. Now P!nk’s original demo has emerged and it’s virtually identical – the arrangement is the same, possibly (probably) the same exact instrumental track, but obviously with P!nk’s voice on top.

Being virtually identical, there’s not an awful lot to tell between the two tracks, yet it’s clear even from the rough mix that Lambert’s singing really makes the track – in fact, from the demo it’s pretty clear to see why it wasn’t included on the final mix of Funhouse. In any case, it’s a handy little insight into the fine margins that separate a really good pop single from just another cut on the studio floor.

Pink – ‘Whataya Want From Me’:

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Adam Lambert – ‘Whataya Want From Me’:

Though this song has been floating around for the better part of 2 weeks now, here’s your friendly reminder to give it a listen if you haven’t yet been swallowed by its monstrous swell. Robert Smith, eccentric frontman of goth legends The Cure, teams up with glitched out troublemakers Crystal Castles for this enormous cover of Platinum Blonde’s 1984 hit ‘Not In Love’. Play it at a deafening volume and wait for that chorus to kick in.

Crystal Castles – Not In Love (ft. Robert Smith) by BHughling

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In years gone by, there just never would have been a debate: Snoop Dogg is black.

In recent years, however, Snoop has been seen to engage in a number of typical “white person” pursuits, such as expressing a desire to appear in Coronation Street, playing Metallica songs and continuing to use words ending in “-izzle” years long after it became annoying and everybody else agreed to stop. He may even play golf.

It took an appearance on TBS’ George Lopez show earlier to finally answer the question we’d all been asking: who’s blacker, Snoop Dogg or Charles Barkley? The results are below.

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Two weeks ago, I was lucky enough to have been presented with an opportunity. It was October 29th and I was about to interview Kelly Shaefer, frontman for the legendary, since-reunited (sort of) death metal band Atheist. This was, and is, kind of a big deal. With the release of Atheist’s first release in 17 years looming, the interview could have gone either way. Luckily, as you’ll find out, it went pretty damn well. For 25 minutes we talked about Jupiter, the nineties, family life and yes, Tony Choy’s name came up. And before you expect controversy, just in case you misread anything, I’ll reiterate something here: Tony and Atheist are not feuding and Tony and Kelly are on good terms. Shit happened, as it does, and in reading this it’s important to remember that.

Jupiter, Atheist's first album in 17 years, comes out tomorrow

Kelly Shaefer: How are you, man?

Tyler Munro: I’m good. How does it feel to be back?

KS: It feels good, man. It’s all really been super-positive, which is refreshing. I mean, compared to our past, it’s been a lot less struggle to get people to kind of understand the music these days. It’s good times for Atheist.

TM: Is that relaxing to kind of just be able to do your thing and not have to…

KS: … yeah, explain overtly. The landscape for music is so much more forgiving now for experimentation. It’s not…

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